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Pace talks Bears-Lions on radio pregame show


General manager Ryan Pace spoke with Jeff Joniak Thursday on the Bears pregame radio show on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM. The following is a transcript of Pace's comments:

On a report Tuesday that Bears coach Matt Nagy had been told that he'd be fired after Thursday's game in Detroit:

"Honestly, my first thought was, 'Hey, that's an inaccurate report.' But I think we did a good job just focusing on what's happening inside our building and blocking out that outside commotion. As I look at it, mentally strong and focused teams are able to do that. I think we have that kind of team. Especially on a short week, the focus is on preparing for the Lions, and we've done that. Obviously, when you lose five in a row, unfortunately it's part of the territory. Some of these things fester up that can be inaccurate. But I'm proud of our guys. I'm proud of our players and coaches and how they stayed locked in all week."

On staying focused on Thursday's game despite outside factors:

"Every professional sports team deals with this at different moments, and especially with social media, it's inevitable. And I think that's where our internal conversations are always open and honest. That type of dialogue benefits our team. Paying attention to the outside media when it's good or when it's bad, in my experiences, that's not helpful. Again, I just think good teams, mentally strong teams are able to minimize those distractions, and I feel like we've been able to do that. And that's a credit to our players and our staff."

On his conversation with chairman George H. McCaskey and team president/CEO Ted Phillips this week:

"As we always do, as a leadership group, we're always talking, when you talk about us four (including Nagy), every week, every season, win or lose, and this week was no different. The support and the communication, that hasn't changed. We're always talking, we're always overcommunicating. That's just a normal part about how we operate. So, those conversations have been no different, and I think in times like these, that's when that's really beneficial to us."

On whether the Bears remain united as a team:

"Yeah, and I think that's when it goes back to the type of people we have in our building and the character on our team. When I think about some of our core leaders and the personal and football character that they have, that's when you lean on that and everybody leans in tighter and closer. Nobody wants to be in this position—we've lost some close games and losing five in a row—but we've got an unbelievable opportunity today on Thanksgiving, and I feel like our guys are locked in and I think it goes back to the type of people that we have in our building."

On last Sunday's loss to the Ravens:

"It was a tough loss, and as I look back on it—and I know this is cliché—but we have to play a complete game. We didn't play well offensively early, but we played well on offense late. We played really well on defense early, but we didn't finish on defense. And then we had some sporadic moments on special teams. In order for us to win consistently, we need to play better in all three phases throughout the game. It can't be sporadic like that, and that's the goal today."

On communication being as important in the secondary as it is on the offensive line:

"I agree that the communication with the secondary is critical, as it is with the offensive line. I think that's a good comparison. Everyone on our team that's active on gameday, all 48 on gameday, they need to be prepared and ready to contribute. You never know when that moment's going to come, and it could be at a critical moment. It could be at the end of a game, and I think you're seeing how important those details are in our game. All these games are usually close and these details are huge. That's on all of us. It's on us as a personnel department to have quality depth on our roster when injuries happen, even within a game. It's on our coaches to have everyone ready to roll when that happens. And it's on our individual players to be prepared and locked into the details, and we need to be better with the details."

On being fortunate that Justin Fields' rib injury wasn't worse:

"I think at the end we're really fortunate that it's nothing long-term; it's definitely not an IR thing. It's more of a day-to-day thing. We'll get through this game. The good thing about it is you'll have some extra time after this game to re-evaluate, not just Justin but some other guys, get them healthy, and get them ready to roll."

On veteran quarterback Andy Dalton starting against the Lions:

"I can't say enough about Andy Dalton and the respect we all have for him. He's a pro. He's been prepared the whole time. He's been awesome with Justin Fields, and I just think we're so fortunate to have him to be able to turn to him in these moments. It's huge for us, and I'm excited to see him play."

On how well Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn played against the Ravens:

"You look back, and as frustrated as you are with the loss, you try to compartmentalize and look at these players individually, Roquan and Robert have been playing extremely well. Roquan had 17 tackles last game. Robert Quinn had a career-high 3.5 sacks. When you talk about those two guys, in addition to what we're seeing on the field is what they're doing off the field. Quinn is an established vet, so respected in our locker room, and Roquan is the leader of our defense. He's taken the reins and it's awesome to see, the type of player he is but also the leader he is. And it's hard. It's hard when you don't have Khalil [Mack] or Akiem [Hicks] or Eddie [Jackson]. We're getting Eddie Jackson back today and that's good. But guys have stepped up. Roquan and Quinn have been unbelievable, but there's been other guys that have stepped up, too."

On Lions running back D'Andre Swift:

"He's a stud. We loved him coming out. We've got a lot of Georgia guys on our team. I was just talking to Roquan about him. Second-year player, Pro Bowl-level talent. He's the centerpiece of their offense. He's really dangerous as a runner and a receiver. I think right now he's first in the league amongst all running backs in receptions. He's outstanding on screens. He's elusive in space. He runs in the 4.4s, so he's got the speed to be a home-run threat. You saw that in the last game. He's just a really good, well-rounded player that's still young and still ascending, so we'll be defending this guy for awhile."